Take a painkiller, right? Is that what you were thinking? Well, yeah, that would be the easy solution, but since I’m learning how to fix common maladies without pills that would pretty much go against that whole idea.
It’s not that I’m trying to make things harder for myself, but better. Painkillers do take away the pain, but they don’t heal the source of it. When you have have pain, it signals to your body to send more blood into that area so it can repair the damaged cells that are causing the pain. Like when you cut your finger and then the cut swells. Infection causes swelling because more blood is sent to the wound.
When you just numb the pain, the body won’t send the extra regenerating nutrients that way, extending the time needed for healing and recovery.
OK, so I don’t have a cut in my head – it just hurts. What can I do or eat to make it better? Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil®, Motrin®, Midol®, etc. are destructive to intestinal flora and create side effects such as nausea and dizziness, hypertension, DNA damage, hearing loss, and even miscarriage. Tylenol contains acetaminophen, which is toxic to the liver.
Headaches are often caused by constricted blood vessels, so the first thing I always do is get up from my chair and take a few deep breaths to boost blood circulation and increase the oxygen flow. Since that didn’t work this time, I took a quick walk around the office and back of the house area. Much better. My headache wasn’t completely eliminated, but it improved so much that it didn’t interfere with my concentration anymore so I could actually get back to work. I got busy with work, had a cup of Chai tea and less than 30 minutes later the headache was gone. No chemical painkiller cocktail needed.
Now, obviously I didn’t have a migraine attack. I’m fortunate enough not to suffer from migraines, but one of my colleagues does. She asked me to to find out what can help her, but I’m not smart enough yet to give her the natural migraine-cure. I’m working on it though. Because I want to be a good friend and give her at least a starting point. So far, here’s what I found:
– eliminate artificial sweeteners, especially sucralose (Splenda)
– improve your gut’s good bacteria –> eat foods containing probiotics (yogurt with live cultures, low in sugar or preferably plain, whole milk), drink kefir, eat miso soup, kimchi, or other fermented foods
– check if your mineral levels are low (click here to see how you can do that at home) and replenish with dark leafy greens, lean beef or lamb, salmon, whole organic eggs, sunflower-, flax, – or pumpkin seeds.
– Try to eliminate dairy for 2 weeks. I know that’s a rough one and long term plan, but I know if you have migraines, all you want is for them to stop. Forever. So keep your long-term goal in mind when you switch to rice milk or other dairy free options.
– add some magnesium to your diet (preferably from real, whole foods, but supplements can work in a pinch). A good source of magnesium and riboflavin (vitamin B2) is quinoa, especially when you cook it in a mineral rich bone broth (chicken or beef; homemade is best) and serve that up with tasty greens.
– Get your bioflavonoids (plant pigments): they function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The darker the color of a fruit or vegetable the better. They are in cocoa, green tea, red wine (alcohol in moderation please), apples, berries, citrus fruit as well as legumes.
– boost your vitamin C with: citrus fruits, berries, onions, garlic, parsley, green tea, peppers, guava, broccoli, and kiwi.
– The smell of peppermint or lavender can also help.
Once I know more about this I will add it here or make it a separate post.
So, remember: if a headache is coming on, move around, take a walk and breathe deeply.